A version of this article was also published at the Globe and Mail. See the Globe and Mail version here.
VIDEOS: Eileen Chadnick kicks off her 12th annual tradition of offering 12 reflection questions and share a little bit personally too. AND – hear about why “Ta Da” lists can be a wonderful antidote to overwhelm in this Ta Da video.
This year marks my 12th year of my annual tradition of posting 12 year-end reflection questions to help you complete your year and prepare to start anew. 12 questions for 12 years – wow! That has quite the holiday ring to it, wouldn’t say?
It seems that this time of year arrives faster with each passing year. But here we are and another 12 months have gone by. How was your year? How do you feel about the year ahead?
If you are thinking it’s all the same, think again. Each year deserves a distinct place in your personal history. The questions below will help you reflect on the wins, the good, and the tough stuff of your year past. And then with a look ahead, you can step into the new year with some renewed energy, intention and possibility.
Ready? Let’s Go!
(Photo Courtesy of Pixabay)
#1 What went well?
Okay, we are doing this question a little differently this year. Set your timer for 3 minutes (to start) and write down as many things that you can think of that fit into a ‘what went well’ or ‘what was good’ list. Consider your personal and professional contexts. Don’t over-analyze. If it comes to mind, put it on the list. Nothing is too small to count. Probably 3 minutes won’t be enough, so take more time to give this some good thought.
Then step back and look at your list. How does it feel to remember those good things. Any surprises? In lives that are busy, full of pressure and stress (can you relate?), the good often gets buried and forgotten. Now see the next question for a follow-up on this.
#2 Who played a part in the good of your year?
As you look at your list reflect on who was there. Who supported you? Made life a little better? Was nice to be around (at work and life)?
In the end, it’s always the people who make the biggest difference to our life (in work and personal lives). So go tell them! Tell them they made a difference. No matter how teeny, tiny, acknowledgments can go a long way. Notice what happens when you share the impact that they had on you. I bet more ‘good things’ (and even stronger relationships) will roll in.
#3 What’s on your “Ta Da” List?
(See the TA DA video here)
You got stuff done this year. I bet lots. But our brains are wired to focus more on what’s still left from our never-ending ‘to-do’s. We get bogged down and can often miss the chance to feel good about our accomplishments.
I am big on to do lists – and ta da lists. Both are highlighted in my book. While a well crafted system of to-do’s keeps one organized and calm, Ta da lists generate good feelings of accomplishment and being on top of things. This fuels us forward. Who wouldn’t want that!?
#4 What did 2023 teach you?
We always remember the good teachers — even if they were tough on us. If 2023 was a teacher, how might it rank up for you in terms of worthy lessons? Don’t answer this quickly. Take some time to reflect on the lessons of the year past. Which ones stood out for you? Did you learn new skills? Acquire more career and life savvy? Meet new parts of yourself? Gain important new insights and perspectives? What else did the 2023 ‘school of life’ teach you?
#5 Enough already – What needs to go?!
Think about the stuff that made 2023 hard at times. Aside from what is beyond your control, consider where you do have some personal agency, then ask: what can I let go of that is keeping me stuck? Or slowing me down?
Perhaps a mindset or attitude that diminishes your potential? Letting self doubt run the show when deep down you know you are super capable? Dusty goals that have lost meaning for you? Or no goals and just winging it!? Bad habits? Or lazy on some good habits (not enough sleep, rest, exercise, healthy eating, other?)? Toxic relationships? Disorganized?
What are you ready to say adieu to — and make space for bringing in something(s) better?
#6 Give 2023 a name before saying goodbye.
Give the year past a theme or a name. “2023 was the year of ____”.
Okay, now it’s time to set your sights on the year ahead!
(Photo Courtesy of Pixabay)
#7 How will you invest in yourself and your career?
What new experiences, and possibilities will you seek out and/or create to advance yourself. If now is not the right time to change jobs., there are countless ways to grow, stay motivated, and be career-ready for new possibilities. See next question for more.
#8 What do you need to learn to be a better leader and/or version of yourself?
Are your goals mostly outcome and performance oriented? What about learning-oriented goals? Shout out to leaders (emerging and experienced): If you aren’t learning, then you are missing a key factor in evolving into a better leader.
Learning never stops. Beyond the technical skills of your role, what about learning new ways to manage stress; to develop more courage; be a better, human-centric, people leader; and better conversations. There are infinite learning possibilities.
#9 What support(s) will set you up for success?
Having goals is great. So who will support you? Don’t go it alone. Seek out people with similar goals and buddy up! Hire a coach if you can. Take advantage of mentoring programs if offered at work or your alma mater. If you want to move up in your career, assembling the right supports is as important as personal determination.
#10 If you could muster up a tiny bit of courage, what would you do?
Feeling daunted by a goal or challenge? Greatness often happens with tiny steps. If you could generate just a few seconds of courage, what is the first thing you’d do? Then what’s next? Commit to taking small, courageous actions, one at a time. They add up quickly!
#11 What’s the kindest thing you will do for…
Kindness is a superhighway to resilience. There’s tough stuff going on in our world. It affects us all, individually, and collectively. Kindness — to others and to yourself – can be the antidote that builds resilience. Make sure you give some and get some from yourself.
#12 Give the year ahead a personal theme.
Think about your over-arching intention for the year ahead and complete this sentence:
2024 will be the year of ____________________.
May your year be filled with connection, learning, growth, and more ‘good things’!
Eileen Chadnick, PCC, of Big Cheese Coaching, is an ICF credentialed coach, a two-time ICF (International Coaching Federation) Prism award winner, who works with leaders (emerging to experienced), and organizations, on navigating, leading and flourishing in times of flux, opportunity and challenge. She is the author of Ease: Manage Overwhelm in Times of Crazy Busy.